News Release

For Release:  January 25, 2008                                                      
Contact:  Stephen Razo 951-697-5217; email: srazo@ca.blm.gov
CA-CDD-08-20

Elevated Arsenic Levels Discovered at Cactus Mine Site in Kern County

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has initiated preliminary actions at the Cactus mine site near Soledad Mountain in eastern Kern County to protect human health due to concerns about elevated levels of arsenic from mine tailings on both public and private lands.

A preliminary environmental assessment of the inactive heap leach gold mining operation site in the Soledad Mining District southwest of Mojave, Calif., has determined that the mine tailings have discharged offsite into the adjacent watershed. The unregulated releases of processed mine tailings are within a half mile of existing rural residences and transportation routes and could pose a potential health hazard to adjacent residents, according to BLM.
 
“Public safety is our primary concern,” states Hector Villalobos, BLM Ridgecrest Field Office manager. “We are currently assessing the potential risks to the general public and are initiating actions in accordance with federal regulations to expedite time-critical remedial actions.”   Villalobos said the actions being taken are in full compliance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act evaluation and removal process.

According to BLM officials, the main area of mill tailings is on BLM land while the adjacent open pit gold mine (Shumake Pit) is on private land. Areas subject to releases of arsenic-bearing tailings during storm events are on BLM public lands. 
 
Villalobos stressed that BLM will be proactive with public information and guidance as further assessments determine potential impacts to public health, public land use, and the environment.

For further information contact the BLM’s Ridgecrest Field Office, 300 South Richmond Road, Ridgecrest, CA 93555, 760-384-5400. 

-BLM-

California Desert District Office – 22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos, Moreno Valley, CA 92553- (951) 697-5217